Monday, August 20, 2012

All My Ex's Live in Texas

It's the small details in the day that make great stories, so here are a few for the day.

I began reading Living Without Enemies, a book co-authored by Samuel Wells and Marcia Owen.  The Duke Wesley had a book group last semester that included discussion with the authors, but due to my work schedule, I was unable to attend.  I got a book, hoping to read along, but truthfully am just now getting to it.  This is one quote that I wanted to share: "the heart of ministry -- and the heart of God -- is about making things beautiful, even when they can't be happy."

I spent the afternoon in the Family cottage.  The name is family, but technically it's just another cottage (no more familial than the others) and is home to around ten teenage boys.  I was pre-warned that today would be difficult, and I'm guessing the idea of ten teenage boys scares most people.  However, today was a walk in the park for me.  Activities in the afternoon included playing basketball, lifting weights, picking weeds, and watching TV.  I like all of these activities myself, and having some companionship made it all the better.  I felt like I was one of the kids, just doing what they do.

Honestly, I felt useless as a staff person, without knowledge, experience, or much training.  So, I just hung out.  It was more "being with" and less "doing for".  I had prepared myself before I came to try to "be with" more and "do for" less, but I always was thinking about my relationship to the kids.  Now, I realize that there is also a power dynamic within the staff.  They are currently cleaning out a room to be my office, but none of the other staff in the cottages have personal offices.  So my lesson today reminded me to "be with" kids AND staff, especially because I am unable to do anything for the other staff.  Obviously, I need a whole lot more than I am able to give.

As I was feeling a little in the way tonight, I had a nice conversation with a young woman on staff who is probably closest to my age.  One of the boys was trying to remember "the song" that someone had mentioned when I said I was from Oklahoma (OOOklahoma, where the wind...).  Because his previous comment on things he knew about Ms. Jerrica included that Oklahoma sits on Texas, her first guess was "All my Ex's Live in Texas".  I laughed and said that currently none of my ex's live in Texas, but I was very pleased by her knowledge of country music.  My trial run in "being with" was well rewarded by this moment and the many other laughs.

I know that every day at Murphy-Harpst may not be as happy as today, but I will try to remember that the heart of ministry is about making things beautiful, even when they can't be happy.

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